Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Epic proportions

Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock is a goddamn tragedy.

I make no secret of my fanboyism for the Guitar Hero franchise. Having been aboard since the PS2 debut of the original and having thrown obnoxious amounts of  money at the franchise, I see no reason to stop now. Sitting quite neatly on my gaming shelf are Guitar Heroes 2, 3, Aerosmith, Metallica, World Tour, 5, Van Halen and now WoR. They and sandwiched between Rock Bands 2 and Beatles (I just couldn't muster up any interest in Green Day, so shoot me). The only guitar that I like is the original XB360 version that came out with 2, so I have a stock pile of at least two back ups that I picked up on clearance at Best Buy. In spite of all of the I was more than a little hesitant yesterday. Even as I walked up to the register, game in hand, I was second guessing my investment. Of course it was a waste of $60, but was it going to be any fun? It didn't help the the media monkey in the game section didn't seem to know that the game had come out, and it really didn't help that it was in an unlabeled space at the bottom of the rack with a only a few copies available. I am far more stubborn than I am intelligent (and I am really not that bright) so I picked it up anyway, tucked it in my bag, and forgot about it for the next six hours.

As I rearranged my basement one more time to make room for standing I thought about how many hours I have spent strumming a plastic guitar or banging on rubber headed drums. These easily outnumber the hours spent being mediocre at Street Fighter; if all the Guitar Heroes and Rock Bands were one big game more effort would have been put into them than any other game I have every played. As soon as the game actually started all my reservations were gone. It was still Guitar Hero, nothing more. I never bothered to look at the set list so every song was a surprise. The story mode is just as silly and ignorable than ever, but this time you are forced to play a set with each character, with the songs in each set fitting the character theme. Johnny Napalm has a punk set, Judy Nails has playful 80's rock. The new characters are even better, with Echo receiving the industrial treatment and Austin's classic rock bunch being one of the best selections of songs I have ever played. There is a thematic consistency now to the character's bands and venues, with everything actually looking good together for the first time in, well, ever. And right when everything finally starts to gel together, it all goes right to shit.

I am completely sold on 75% of what the game has to offer. I smiled like an idiot during Bohemian Rhapsody, singing along (badly) even though I have never plugged my microphone in. Finally, after all these years, getting to play a little Dire Straights was a blessing. All that Neversoft had to do was stop there. It would not have been innovative, but it would have still been fun. I can even deal with there being somewhere around twenty stars available on every song because it has no effect on how I play the game.

Can you imagine the abortion of a meeting that spawned the idea of the characters transforming into the love children of Tim Burton and Todd McFarlane?

'You know,' says exec number one, 'I like what I see here, but I think it just might be too normal. What ideas do you have?'

'Well,' says exec number two, 'my kids, whom I neglect in a nearly criminal manner, like to shop at Hot Topic. Lets turns our now recognizable players into something that looks like that.'

'An excellent idea! Would your care for a baby as a light snack?'

And then the wonderful idea gets handed down to the people who actually make the games, who have actual babies to feed and not eat, and they have no choice. Someone deserves about a thousand nice hard kicks to the scrotum for this, and I aim to find out who.

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